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Caliban's War
James S.A. Corey
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The Shining Girls

The World House

The World House - Guy Adams There's something sinister about a structure that's bigger on the inside than it has any right to be, whether it's [b:House of Leaves|24800|House of Leaves|Mark Z. Danielewski|http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51CV88E7WQL._SL75_.jpg|856555] or the TARDIS or Snoopy's dog house (if he can fit a grand piano in there, who knows what other secrets are buried within?). The World House, which, let's get it out of the way right now, is profoundly disappointing, does it one better by sticking the impossible house inside of a creepy box, which is, I guess, doubly creepy. And for a while, it is. Chapter by chapter, we slowly meet our cast, as characters from across time -- Miles, a down-on-his-luck antiques dealer with a gambling problem living in 2010; Penelope, a flapper hanging out in sleazy clubs in the '20s; Tom, a booze hound in a dive bar watching news reports of Elvis' death -- encounter a strange old man with a mysterious box: small, unassuming, covered in Chinese characters. The box opens, and suddenly they are transported into the House, where time doesn't exist, nor do the laws of physics, cause and effect, or good character development. All of the characters are transported into different sections of the house, where they slowly begin to meet up through alternating chapters as they try to survive an environment where anything is possible: a kitchen with an unending supply of food staffed by a cannibal midget chef, a jungle encased in glass, a bathroom with a tub as big as an ocean and filled with evil water ghosts. I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I am making this sound interesting.On the surface, this really should be a good book. Instead, it's an episode of The Twilight Zone. Now, don't get me wrong, I love The Twilight Zone, but there are certain things I will accept from a 25-minute TV show that don't really work in a 400-page novel, among them characters that are defined by exactly one trait (I am a stuffy explorer from the Victorian era, so I am rugged yet dignified and shocked at vulgar language; I am a heroine in a screwball comedy and therefore I make wisecracks about my wardrobe instead of collapsing into a nervous breakdown after I am almost eaten by mutant worms and reanimated wolves). The plot is a mess. Though weird things keep happening as the characters travel through the house, none of them are that interesting (oh, the friendly band of humans is made up of cannibals, didn't see that coming), and are inconsequential regardless since there never seems to be much danger, at least until it's dramatic (it's the Roger Rabbit rule of storytelling, which I have invoked before). Here is an easy way to think of it: + I'd add in a little Dark City and maybe some Monster House, but I don't want to resize any more pictures.There are far too many dumb characters and not enough good stuff happens to them to justify how irritating they are. Various men and women meet up amidst the insanity of the House but quickly find time to start flirting and trading dull romantic banter. There's the street rat kid from Spain; let's call him, oh, Pablo. He can speak English perfectly, except he leaves out all the articles, conjugates verbs incorrectly and takes all idioms literally, to "humorous" effect; this makes him a unique character. For easy reference, you can think of him as Short Round.The worst parts, hands down, are the sections from the point-of-view of Sophie, an autistic girl; everything is told to us in short, choppy sentences and Random Words are capitalized to show us The Way She Thinks. "The people here are Wrong. They wear Wrong clothes. They eat Wrong food. Some of the people here look at her in a way she does not like... She thinks this is because people think she is Wrong, and like her, they do not like Wrong Things." I think this book is Wrong to include such an Annoying Character. And speaking of Wrong, there are a bunch of weird elements that bugged me, like, for example, Sophie only starts Randomly Capitalizing things in her second or third scene, like Guy Adams didn't get the idea until later on but didn't bother to read the earlier chapters again (can't blame him, honestly). Then there is the American character (we know he's American because Pablo makes a joke: "I thought all American wear cowboy hats, is very disappointing. I am surrounded by America and still no cowboy hat!") who talks about finding a torch that was out of batteries. Dear Guy: in America, a torch does not need batteries.The end picks up a bit, only to close on a huge cliffhanger, which is doubly irritating because I am not going to read the sequel.